Tag Archives: incarnation

A Great and Mighty Wonder

Biblical Text: John 1:1-14
Key Hymn: A Great and Mighty Wonder, LSB 383
Full Sermon Text

Maybe it is just getting older, but two things I experience daily that a younger man wouldn’t think could happen together. It could just be becoming set in my ways, but that isn’t how I experience it. Daily I am more convinced both of basic Christian doctrine and also with specific Lutheran doctrine. I’m a contrarian by nature. It is the last thing I would have expected. At the same time as becoming more sure of that doctrine, I’m becoming less militant. What I mean by that is while I can’t imagine something that forces a rethink on Augsburg Confession doctrine, I’m also much more willing to say with Paul “and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Phil 3:15-16)” We are all straining toward a goal we have not attained. I save my militancy for those situations where I see people deliberatively leaving the narrow way, and those tempting them off it.

A Great and Mighty Wonder is my favorite Christmas hymn. It helps that it is set to Es IST Ein Ros (Lo, How a Rose is Blooming), but that isn’t everything. When you understand a little of the life of the writer it becomes all the more powerful. This sermon hopefully proclaims the savior’s birth, reflected through St. Germanus, while living in the eschatological hope. Germanus’ life is a life that is incomprehensible outside of doctrine. It is also one that understands how that doctrine itself can deny the hope that is only Christ. His hymn is a moving meditation moving to the great hope when all idols – seen and unseen – shall perish and satan’s lying cease. And Christ shall raise his scepter, decreeing endless peace.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Genesis 21:1-21 and Mark 6:35-56

Genesis 21:1-21
Mark 6:35-56
The slave child and the free child (Paul’s Allegory)
All Israel & God no longer “passing by” but getting into the boat with us

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Exodus 15:19-16:12 and Hebrews 10:1-18

Exodus 15:19-16:12
Hebrews 10:1-18
Who is our enemy and rejoicing at their fall, Proper complaints about authority, Shadows & Reality
Praise Be to Christ – Lutheran Service Book 538

Note: When I get to 10 minutes I more or less cut it off. I actually want to keep it under 9 minutes, but the readings have been longer recently, and these are some deep passages. (If they are too long at 10 minutes, I’d love some feedback. Reading & recording isn’t the same as listening.) So, if you want to discuss them more please come to Thursday night bible study, St. Marks @ 7 PM, 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month.

Incarnate – Christmas Day

ChristmasDay2013folder

Biblical Text: John 1:1-19
Full Sermon Draft

Our soundmaster included a bunch of the service from this morning. The message is from John, but the hymns and carols selected tell the same story. Merry Christmas.

Gold Bricks, Rotting Corpses and Dead Phone Lines…

Text: Mark 9:30-37
Full Sermon Draft

That title or the graphics might be a little macabre, but just give a listen (or a read). Every now and then you come across a story that has meaning beyond the simple facts. That’s what happened here.

Stories of Flesh and Blood

Text: Ephesians: 2:11-22
Full Draft of Sermon

Had one of the best comments possible I think – a 4 year old at McDonald’s after service commented on the sermon.

The stories in the world today – especially in the aftermath of yet another mass shooting – are stories of alienation and loss. They are stories of searching. Sometimes finding. Sometimes not and remaining lost. Those stories play with a deep truth. Sin alienates. It is the cause and the manifestation of our lostness. The artists and the church actually agree on the diagnosis, but they disagree on the prescription. The church actually has an answer. It is found in the incarnation…in the flesh and blood of Christ.

The alabaster jar

I wanted to share this poem primarily because I found it strikingly beautiful.

The woman with the alabaster jar

She knew the lines of a man’s back
as well as she knew the taste
of decanted fig-wine, or the way the spine
girdered the back under her hand;
an uneven scaffolding of flesh under fingers.
It was a gentle gift, this. Acquired slowly
in the stones arranged on her mother’s grave,
in the deep vault of her hip against his.
Dipping like water, she learnt to press libations
into her hair — lavender, dill, coriander;
to twist strands against the frame.
There was salvation in this. And Art too;
that fingers still wet from mulberry
could etch a form of truth on the skin,
like the rim of flung-coin, or the
consolation of Spring oranges and their spurting.

But the truth of them has been forgotten.
His dirty feet and tired eyes, her hennaed-thighs
in sandalwood and linen, how she swung her hips,
how his loneliness was an atrium arching from his chest
to the lip of the buttress; aching for her to unfurl her hair.

—Davina Allison

The allusions swim around these texts (Matt 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:37-39 – although note that the Luke story is a different setting; also look at Song of Solomon 5:15-16). Does it step over a line for the pious, or does it push to the right line reminding us ‘…and he was made man…’?

Its Halloween Time

Here is an interesting article from the WSJ on Halloween.

This is one of those holidays that has blown up, or the marketing machine and a willing public has gone along. As a kid it was at best a couple of hours. I’m sure there were, but I don’t remember adults getting costumed and partying. Now its almost worst than New Year’s eve. You can’t admit that you don’t have an Eve to go with your Adam costume or that its all a bit silly for anyone over 10…12?

But there is another side to Halloween. Halloween is the eve of All Saints Day. All Saints is high enough on the Christian calendar that the altar cloths go white. That places it on the same level as Christmas and Easter by the way! As a Lutheran it is also near what we celebrate as reformation day (when Luther nailed the 95 theses to that Wittenberg door). One of the results of the reformation shouldn’t have been the eclipse of All Saints, but a larger view as in the Protestant mind we can safely claim more saints.

Is Halloween the secular celebration of having outgrown all such superstition as devils and saints and God…or is it the collective whistling past the graveyard of a culture that can’t talk about such things or doesn’t want to be forced to? Can Halloween be a bridge to less silly things, or is that just selling out to the culture?

Christmas – We know incarnations when we see them…

wordle
Full Text

Christmas. One of the two days of the year that you have to have a good message. (The other is mother’s day by the way. On Easter you are preaching to the congregation anymore. On Christmas and mother’s day you still get a chance to preach to the unconverted.) On top of being good, it has to be short. On top of being short it has to carry off a tone. Film makers do this by shooting specific places and then blurring or making crisp the picture. For example, if they want to paint a tragically romantic scene they might take a picture of a late autumn forest and blur it a bit. The same spot made crisp might convey instead of tragic romance a lurking dread. 10 seconds of such a picture sets the tone.

The audience is probably coming into the service either exhausted, angry, nervous, lonely, or annoyed. That is what we do to ourselves around Christmas. And the service in that frame of mind is one more thing to get through. The goal of the Christmas sermon (and the entire service) is to take people from that negative place, and to move them to a much different view of Christmas. To admit that this state I’m feeling right now is a result of how messed up the world actually is because of sin, and to rest in the fact that God has provided a savior. The tone should be one of a giant exhale.

This sermon didn’t pull punches. That is usually what the Christmas sermon does. It forgets the law. It goes along with the culture and the charade of a perfect Christmas. It talks of love and warm fuzzies, but without acknowledging the real state of people’s minds and why they are that way. That sermon fuzzes out the bad stuff and because of that can satisfy at the moment but is without merit. It is complicit is painting the Christ out of Christmas. This one didn’t pull those punches, but hopefully balanced it out with the gospel.